More details about the Surabaya suicide bombers have come to light as a result of the ongoing police investigation, including how the parents of the families involved could have possibly decided to bring their young kids along with them during their attacks.
In the case of the family of six who targeted three churches in Surabaya on Sunday, East Java Police Chief Machfud Arifin today said that the kids’ upbringing were different to that of most children their age. For one, their parents never sent them to school and they lied about it every time anybody asked.
“[The parents said the kids were] homeschooled if they were asked. That wasn’t actually the case,” Arifin said at a press conference today, as quoted by Detik.
“The mother and father only indoctrinated them [with radical thought], with videos and other teachings.”
Police identified the father as 48-year-old Dita Oepiarto and his wife as 43-year-old Puji Kuswati. Together they had four children, identified by the initials YF (18), FA (16), FS (12), and FR (9). YF and FA, both boys, were understood to have blown themselves up while riding a motorcycle at the Santa Maria Church; Puji took her small girls, FS and FR, to suicide bomb the Indonesia Christian Church (GKI); and Dita blew himself up at the Pentakosta Central Church.
Officials also believe Dita’s family was among 500 Indonesians recently returned from Syria who had gone to the Middle East to fight with Islamic State and that they had spent some time with the terrorist group learning about terrorism tactics and bomb making.
“Many condemned [the terrorists’ kids] and they generalized. Kids can only trust and follow their parents. I believe, if God is merciful, then even [the terrorists’] kids are now in a better place.”
As for the suicide bombing at the Surabaya Police HQ on Monday morning, the police confirmed that it was also carried out by one family, this time consisting of five members. The father, 50-year-old Tri Murtiono, took his wife and three children, strapped them with homemade bombs, and blew themselves up at the entrance gate to the police station. Miraculously, the youngest member of the family, an 8-year-old girl, survived and is now being treated as a key witness.
Tri is understood to have had close relations with Dita, who himself is a leader of the Surabaya chapter of the Jemaah Ansharut Daulah, a terrorist network with links to Islamic State (IS). The latest casualty count across the five explosion sites in East Java, including a premature explosion in an apartment housing another family of suspected terrorists in the city of Sidoarjo, stands at at least 28 dead and 57 injured.